Famous for his often manic and always humorous monologues, Gray was, by the late 1990s, in a happy marriage living in Long Island, doing yoga every day. But his life became unhinged after a devastating car accident in Ireland in 2001, which fractured his skull and crushed his hip. It sent Gray into a deep and unremitting depression.
But the fact that Spalding had begun performing a new piece in October of last year gave his friends and family reason to hope that he was emerging from his despair. The monologue recounts the story of the accident and Gray's hospitalization in Ireland with gallows humor: "The following day I slipped into a depression, and I didn't know whether to tell the Irish about it, whether they would acknowledge this depression. I mean, does a fish know it's swimming in water? It's indigenous to the rainy culture."
The last time Gray performed his work-in-progress "Life Interrupted" at PS 122, he also read a short story called "The Anniversary", about the afternoon he spent with young Theo at the Carousel in Central Park on the tenth anniversary of the day he met his wife, Kathie Russo. Like the unfinished monologue, this piece is also much darker than Gray's early work. The third piece in this collection is a very short, remarkably poignant letter Spalding wrote about the terrorist attacks of September 11, titled "Dear New York City".
©2005 The Estate of Spalding Gray; (P)2006 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"An unusual book [that] indicates the affection and esteem Gray commanded. "(Publishers Weekly)
Life Interrupted – the last dialogue from Spalding left me slightly angry and uncertain at his final exit stage left. Suicide may be one’s ultimate stage direction but it seemed to me a selfish ultimate attention getter…without the one whom needed the attention to appreciate and accept the love from others being returned to him. AM Holmes, and other speakers in a memorial, cast a portrait of a man afraid of everything, but confronting and attacking his anxieties. Spalding was transforming banality to sublime experience- a psychosocial anthropologist –representing the ethos and pathos of our time. The desk, the paid shirt, the water sipped, the water…I truly wish he was on a walkabout; it is very difficult to image life without him…
Be forwarned that there is very little material by Spaulding Gray in this audiobook. Most of the material is interviews with friends who talk about "the Spaulding I knew". Fine if that is what you are looking for. You will have to look elsewhere if you want more that a few minutes of material by Mr. Gray.
This is definitely one of the funniest books/monologues I've ever listened to.
I haven't read or listened to much in this genre yet.
Sam Shepard is a superb performer of Spalding Gray, and a better speaker than Shepard. This was a genius pairing.
I found this audiobook to be an excellent introduction to Spalding Gray: his unfinished monologue, his short story, and his letter along with remembrance pieces from his closest friends, his wife, and his children gave me a better sense of him. Now I look forward to reading some of his other monologues.
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